(reading time: 52 minutes)
Golden Boy Diary #38
(transcribed from video log)
Hey guys. Okay, so… I’m sure you’ve heard that some nasty stuff went down a little while ago and I just want to do my best to explain how I got caught up in it. The first thing I want to say is that I’m very unhappy with the way it turned out and I’m doing everything I can to get it sorted out.
It all started with the stretch goals that Alpha Dog came up with after Woman’s Touch drained us. It wasn’t something that surprised any of us; he’s always looking for a gimmicky way to squeeze out more money. Most of the time I don’t mind. More money means we’re more prepared. He had me make a work out video. (One thing I don’t appreciate guys is all the comments saying that video is just soft core porn for ladies because I happen to be wearing a muscle shirt. Grow up a little bit.) Archive made one talking about what it’s like to read computer code while it’s… you know… coding or whatever. Impala has one measuring how high she can jump.
For some reason he decided to be a jackass to Monkey Girl about hers. He told her she needed to not shave for a while so you guys could see her at her most monkeyish. I had absolutely no idea she was not cool with it. When he asked me to help him make the video and cut some of her hair I assumed it had been cleared with her beforehand. If I’d had any idea at all I never would have participated and I would have been the first one to smack the clippers out of his hand. That’s basically what I did right after Wallflower stopped us. I sure am glad she’s always lurking in the corner.
Alpha Dog and I really had it out. I blew my top. I don’t think I’ve yelled at anybody like that for the last five years. The worst part was that he just ignored me at first while he fiddled around with the computer.
“What are you doing?’ I asked.
“Editing this,” he said like it was no big deal.
“You can’t put that up!” I shouted.
“Relax. I cut out her crying.”
“Can’t you tell she doesn’t want that up at all?”
“Too bad. She said yes. It’s already done.”
“You just posted it? After that? What the hell is wrong with you?”
“She’ll get over it. You want to keep being a hero? We need this money. Nobody else is going to admit the internet’s a great wriggling ball of flesh-starved imbecilic imps that’s only paying for a sideshow. We have to give ourselves to them. We have to admit we’re freaks and let them do their name-calling and their condescending. That’s how we get this done.”
Ventura ran around the corner and started barking at us. Alpha Dog smashed a button on his gauntlet and the dog dropped its head on the floor and went silent. He couldn’t do that to us though. Wallflower ran and got Archive while we did our shouting. Then Archive did some of her own. I had to defend myself and explain I was definitely not a part of it. That was pretty hard to do given the pile of fur on the carpet and all the little loose hairs on my arm.
When Impala got back she tore into him even worse. After having so many of us yell at him he eventually had to back down and slink away with his tail between his legs. When Archive wen to talk to Monkey Girl I asked her to apologize for me. I was pretty sure she didn’t want to see me right away. I think Archive offered to cut Monkey Girl’s hair and fix how we kind of screwed up the back of it. She’s pretty good with scissors because she can see all the layers of hair at once. When Monkey Girl finally came out she had a much neater cut.
I am lucky she accepted my apology. The only problem is that she wants to quit now. I’m doing everything I can to get her to stay, but she probably just sees me as a pair of grinning clippers. What stinks is that I’m actually a pretty good barber too… at least when I’m trying.
We were all hoping that Orb would help us refocus. That’s right. He got here today. We went to meet him at (redacted) beach. If it was before the shaving incident we probably would have made a day out of it and gone swimming or something, but it ended up being all business. We were all sweltering in our costumes under the sun. It was a pretty abandoned spot thanks to all the dead crabs everywhere. It stunk like the back of a cheap seafood place. Transplant didn’t even want to touch all the slimy piles of kelp. Guess he prefers the woods. (He managed to keep everybody cool. He was basically the only one that didn’t yell at Alpha Dog but it was pretty obvious he was disappointed.)
After about an hour I still couldn’t see a boat on the horizon. Monkey Girl and I convinced Transplant to touch the kelp long enough to make it into some smelly shade for us so we didn’t burn. I wanted to make a sand castle guys. I wanted to so badly. Nobody else was in the mood though. Sand probably reminds them of Pawn.
Something rose out of the water and rolled towards us; it was a large ball covered in fine green algae and mud. The algae fell away and out so it didn’t touch the man inside the ball. Orb was hovering in place with his legs crossed and his eyes closed. I didn’t think he’d be so old; he’s got to be at least sixty-five. Don’t get me wrong though, he looks as solid as a fence post.
He’s bald with a perfectly-trimmed little white beard. When he stood up I thought he was going to open his eyes and we’d see just white like Wallflower’s. But no. They were perfectly normal. Big and brown and placid.
“You must be the Justice Backers,” he said in pretty perfect English. “I am Orb.”
“Did… did you roll all the way across the ocean floor to get here?” Alpha Dog asked. It was what we were all wondering.
“Yes. I am famished. You didn’t happen to bring anything to eat did you?”
“No I don’t think so,” Alpha Dog started to say, but Monkey Girl interrupted him.
“I have a granola bar,” she said and dug it out of the small bag she’d brought. She walked up to him and handed the green wrapper over. Everyone stood around awkwardly while he slowly unwrapped it and chewed. He moaned about how good it was the whole time.
“How did you go that whole way without resting? Or breathing? Sir,” I asked. I kind of fumbled on what amount of respect to show. He does run a temple after all and I don’t know what you’re supposed to call someone like that.
“Peace of mind slows the heart,” he said. “You need less food, water, sleep, and air. My sphere is permeable enough to allow oxygen through, but not water. Even under the greatest pressure the Earth can muster.” Crazy wild.
“What did you see down there?” Transplant asked.
“There was no light to see by.”
“Then how did you find your way?”
“I set my mind to the destination. My instincts pulled me against the currents when they needed to. I did look at a picture of this beach on the internet,” he admitted.
Everyone else was practically scooping up sand their jaws had dropped so much. Not me. I get this guy. When he talks like that it sounds just like the knack. Maybe his powers are kind of like mine. Or the other way around I guess since he’s way older than me.
Alpha Dog presented him with his costume. He told us it’s sort of a traditional Indian robe thing with some modern touches. I saw it when it arrived with a bunch of merchandise a few days ago. It’s got a lot of orange and purple. After that they started talking about a lot of the details about life at the Barn while the rest of us just kind of hung around. Again I wished things had been the way they were before. We would’ve been playing tag with an invisible Wallflower always being it. That way you could only track her by her footprints in the sand. Wouldn’t that be fun? It’d be like real-life Beach Detective.
While the guys were talking about their favorite beaches I listened in on Orb, Alpha Dog, and Impala. Alpha Dog was a little peeved that Orb wasn’t going to be doing personal diaries. You should’ve heard Orb’s reason.
“I cannot discuss my mind with the average person,” he said. “They haven’t had the prerequisite training to understand thoughts of that level. I cannot risk letting some of the clues to enlightenment slip. It would be like leaving colorful poison in front of a child.” Everyone on this team is so unbelievably cool. When have you ever heard anyone say something that cool? That’s like the absolute zero of cool.
Alpha Dog looked like he wanted to convince Orb, but Impala kind of shut him down. With her doing the backer updates and the whole shaving thing, we’re starting to wonder if maybe she should just run things. He could still do all the technical stuff. It just feels weird because he keeps acting my age instead of his. You know I once heard him say that he only hired Impala as the other team leader because he thought nobody would fund a group led by a single white guy. He said she was a ‘double-header’ because she’s black and a woman. It makes me wonder if Pawn and I are the only ones he really wanted to hire in the first place and he just saw the rest of the team as diversity-stuffing.
I shouldn’t say that. Eben means well. I know I’ve said the wrong thing a lot of times. We just need to hope that Monkey Girl decides to stay. If you guys talk to her at all make sure you tell her how much you’d miss her if she goes.
I’ve got to get going. Now that Orb has had a proper dinner we’re doing an evening training session with him. There have been some clues about Woman’s Touch floating around on the web, so things might come to a head soon. We need to be ready. I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow. Sorry, but the comments section is still under construction while we try and burn that Swagglerock guy out. Probation for all those counts. Can you believe it?
The following is an excerpt from the TI/preheroes forum on Thinkitch
Keystone: Finally we get a minute to talk without the LPs blabbing away.
SleeplessKnight: They do get on my nerves.
OldDominion: I know we’re not supposed to question people’s powers but I don’t think they’re for real. I think they’re like twelve and just had to move on to the lichen cuz they didn’t get their Hogwarts letter.
SleeplessKnight: Is it just me or do they always sound like… like they’re into the lichen. Like they want it to be their bf.
SacredQueen: Come on guys. We’re not here to badmouth other phs. Does anybody have any new ideas how we can reach 10K? We’re still like 3K away. The Backers are never going to bother looking at our applications if they’re not wrapped in some nice green paper.
GlacierGirl: I’m having second thoughts Becky. Do we even want to give them all that money? Did you read that new stuff about Alpha Dog? He seems like a big jerk. They won’t even be any good without Monkey Girl. We should just start our own team with the money.
SacredQueen: A couple thousand isn’t anywhere near enough for that. I don’t know about you but I don’t know anybody selling stealth planes and undocumented bunkers.
OldDominion: There are too many fakers in this forum anyway. If we start a team we’ll be drowning in them.
SacredQueen: That’s villain talk Dominion! If Kate’s a faker then you’re a faker. Then I’m a faker. We need to support each other.
SleeplessKnight: Let’s do whatever we’re going to do today. I’m super tired.
GlacierGirl: I thought you didn’t sleep?
SleeplessKnight: I don’t but I get tired. It really hurts sometimes. I just want to ZZZZZZ -_-
SacredQueen: Have you thought about going to the doctor Knight?
SleeplessKnight: It’s just my powers.
SacredQueen: If you have a health issue you should really go there first. We don’t want anything to happen to you.
SleeplessKnight: You just said to trust people Becky. It’s my POWERS. Nobody else has ever had this much trouble sleeping.
SacredQueen: ?? Can we help you guys? This is the preheroes forum. I’m Becky and I’m the mod :).
SwaggleRock69: this is a raid! feast you’re eyes on TI/backerbusters! were here 2 screw with any1 retarded enough 2 like the Justice Backers! come on in boys!
Spammich2020: losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers losers
OldDominion: Becky ban these guys.
MayorGimpy: RAID! Where’d we fall this time? What is all this shit… You guys think you have super powers? Your so retarded. Kill yourselves. With rusty old knives.
SacredQueen: I’m trying but they just keep switching their usernames. I don’t even know how many there are.
DiabetesD0nut: kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself kill yourself
Swagglerock69: how many times I gotta say it? u cant ignore us. we run Thinkitch. we run everything bitch. y do u think Monkey Bitch is runnin scared? alpha dog did a harmless little prank and then she got hysterical or got the vapors or whaetevr u call that feminine shit these days. grils shouldnt try 2 b heros.
SacredQueen: You cannot succeed villain.
GlacierGirl: The Justice Backers are trying to make the world a better place. They will always be doing more to raise people up than you can to bring them down.
Pileofboots: U loosers know alpha dog and pawn r jews right? They’re only gonna do the fake “hero” thing for a few months and then they’ll sell the film rights to their jew friends in Hollywood and make two hundred quadrillion more dollars that way.
NomoAnita: jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews jews
Swagglerock69: u little prehero shits r just a bunch of fakers. i think im so special…. so i must b a superhero! hurrdurr. so much stupid i cant even handle it.
OldDominion: Even if we’re just a bunch of deluded adult children we’re still greater than you. We still want the world (and the internet) to be a safe place for EVERYONE.
GlacierGirl: You tell them Dominion!
164937436383: RAID! Have you wet yourself yet? Just checking…
SuckandSwallow69: You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED. You just got RAPED.
SacredQueen: We stand with the Backers! Phs, I just heard great news. Monkey Girl is staying! She said she needs to see Woman’s Touch brought down because that’s what heroes do. She’s going to fight for Pawn and for us. That’s what we do to. You have no power here Swaggle. We’re not just keyboard crusaders. We believe in our powers, specifically the power to overcome you!
Keystone: We are preheroes!
Swagglerock69: O SHUT UP! Well b back. Theirs bigger fish to fuck. Come on boys lets go screw with justicebackers.com some more. i got some sweet gifs of Monkey Bitch shopped into fat pron.
Keystone: …. Are they gone?
SacredQueen: They’ll never go away. The important thing is that we never go away either. I’ve got an idea for the fundraiser now. Everybody screencap this and we’ll re-do the advertising as an anti-Swagglerock thing. Even if people don’t agree with us, they’ll want to help us stop him.
GlacierGirl: We’ll finally get to save the day.
Alpha Dog Diary #1
(transcribed from video log)
I wasn’t supposed to do these. Ever. I’m the leader. The backer updates counted as my diaries so I could maintain the suave stony thing I had going. Only I don’t do the updates any more. They’ve been telling me I haven’t been much of a leader. What sucks the most is that they’re right.
From the beginning this has been about me. Hostage was only half the reason I left Nance behind. By doing that I created a super villain before I’d even shoved my handful of heroes into the Barn. She was souring into an angrier more selfish person before I even got the first coat of primer on the dogs. Pawn might be dead because of me. Any day now Monkey Girl is going to move his arm from the container I gave her and put it in an urn.
Orb was supposed to straighten things out. He was my ace in the hole, proof I could still recruit and manage the big guns. He had more conspiracy theories floating around the internet than a video of bigfoot strolling through Benghazi. Getting him on the team was supposed to put me back on the pedestal. The problem is I was thinking I’d been clawed off it rather than what actually happened. I stumbled off it like a drunk and tried to catch myself on some underage girl’s strapless dress. That’s what it feels like now anyway.
I bet you want to know what convinced me I was in the wrong. Most people would have been convinced earlier, but apparently it takes things only slightly smaller than a blow to the head for a dunce like me. After Impala, Archive, and Golden Boy shouted my head off that night I locked myself in the dark workshop and had my IT dog Dialup project some forums up on the wall for me. I scoured them with a fine-toothed comb looking for people’s thoughts about me. People mostly talked about the rest of the team because of their diaries but I figured there had to be some stuff covering me. I did do all the crowdfunding before they even got here.
I stayed in there all night and skipped breakfast. I had Crispy fetch me a sandwich so I wouldn’t have to look anyone in the eye until I had a counterargument. Until I found a contingent somewhere in all our backers who thought I was the greatest. Be careful what you wish for.
It turns out I did have some fans. Mostly guys. Mostly teenagers. Mostly the kind of person who speeds through puddles to splash people on the street. Since I wasn’t doing diaries, they had plenty of opportunities to construct their own narrative around me. Dress me up in their uniform.
Here’s how their narrative goes. I, Eben Erenthall, bravely liberated my pack of robotic hounds from MFU because I couldn’t stand their oversight and the thought of my dogs being part of some big government project. That is largely true, except for the subtheory that developed saying my dogs were going to be used to discreetly track and maul conservative activists so that liberals could blame it on wild animal attacks caused by said animals’ shrinking habitats. If you think I’m making this up you can check the links at the bottom of this post. There are multiple tributaries of this sewage.
The narrative goes on to say Nance Pilton, worried she might lose her ability to sleep her way to the top when one of her underlings betrayed MFU, tried to stop me, failed, and became disgraced. From there she stole the hard work of true scientists in order to fashion a giant pair of hands to counter her natural physical inferiority. (Again, not my words)
This warped Randian version of me then uses his smarts to build a base the government can’t find. Then he starts a crowdfunding campaign for superheroes, but is forced to include inferior people in the team to satisfy the internet’s arbitrary political correctness checklist. There’s a couple guys floating around out there like turds on the current insisting they were on the short list to be included but they were pushed out to make room for a woman or a black person or a lesbian. This is unequivocally untrue. Everyone on this team belongs here, except for me maybe.
The story continues. The barbaric me fights many heroic battles, all the while covering for the shortcomings of his team. Then one day after some totally appropriate light teasing, Monkey Girl, who is usually referred to as either Monkey Bitch or ape tits, throws a tantrum and starts insisting that I violated her and need to be removed from my own team.
It pains me to admit how close my viewpoint was to this myth the Neanderthals of the net have coughed up and celebrated. It’s like having a long conversation with a distant relative, thinking you have a lot more in common than you thought, and then they suddenly say something about the Mexican lack of work ethic. It takes the wind out of you and makes you realize you’re being less of a cloth sail and more of a plastic bag covered in hash brown grease. I don’t want to be a hero to those people. I want to see TI/alphadog drift much closer to the rest of the Backers’ dedicated forums. That means it’s time for a few changes.
I’ve already performed one of the key actions. I had already apologized to Monkey Girl once after I uploaded the video of me shaving her. (Obviously the video has been removed.) At the time it was not an honest apology. I was actually scared she might rat me out to the cops, but I should have known she would never do something like that. I went back and I gave her a real apology. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it real. You can say the words but you can’t force the feelings. Or maybe you can. I looked her in the eye and just started rattling off every little dumb reason I had for tricking her and taking advantage of her trust. About halfway through, I started to cry. So I managed to make it real.
Impala is going to keep doing the updates for a while, but I think there are some big changes coming. It might not turn out well for me, but I’m confident that my team has everyone’s best interest in mind. It’ll turn out amicable. We’ll get to all that once we fix my mistakes. Once we find Pawn and stop Woman’s Touch.
If you want to thank anyone in particular for preventing the dissolution of the team you can send a message to the human venereal disease named Swagglerock69. Without his cronies grandstanding at every turn I might not have realized what an ass I was being. We live in a world of many moral gray areas, but TI/backerbusters is a cesspit of infinite darkness. They wouldn’t know a shade of gray if someone stuffed that porn novel down their pants. Thanks to them I’ve migrated back to the nest-like warmth of the gray areas between law, responsibility, passion, and internet fame. The home of the Justice Backers.
Now that I’ve admitted my many errors, the team has agreed to let me keep running the fundraisers. You guys know the drill. I can stand up here on my box and shout about how brave and powerful we are, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t buy us a box. We rely on your charity so we can then dispense it to the truly needy. I’ve decided that instead of doing the kind of stretch goals that landed me in hot water, we could just do a little extra for the people we’re protecting. This month ten percent of every dollar raised will go to the families of the various guards and employees Woman’s Touch assaulted and injured over the course of her robberies. One of them has had to be back to the hospital twice for corrective surgery and they’re struggling with the medical bills. If you’d like to give to that cause in particular you can find the links below.
We’re heading into the home stretch of our first adventure backers. No matter what happens I know I’ll come out the other side a better person. Maybe even a hero.
Archive’s Tips #1
This is Archive’s Tips number one. Hello everyone. You may have noticed this is not the normal video format. This series will not be replacing my personal diaries; I simply wanted to make another set of videos offering insight into various topics and creating a few lectures to help pass on my computer and mind comprehension skills to you.
That will all start with entry number two. For this first entry I am pleased to bring you something that I think will help many of you through your daily lives. As you likely know, Orb has recently joined our team. Some people doubt the man has reached enlightenment; they think he was simply born with his abilities. All I can tell you is that I don’t see lies in him. I see the brightest clearest mind I’ve ever seen. It’s like silken strands of moonlight. It’s like the twinkling of stars that have never considered they might one day go out.
He doesn’t do diaries because he’s afraid of bestowing an incomplete form of clarity onto his listeners. That being said, I argued that some details of his ordered life could surely help people in need of structure. He conceded; he has allowed me to post his daily schedule for everyone to learn from. I’ve adopted several steps of it already. It may be the placebo effect, but I think the clarity of my powers has already improved slightly. I give it to you now in the hopes that its beauty and simplicity can bring some order to your life:
6:00 A.M. – Orb wakens. (He sleeps in a seated position on a large cushion.)
6:10 A.M. – Orb emerges from a cool shower set to low pressure. (The pressure could be to mimic the flow of natural water or simply because he has no hair he needs to wash.)
6:30 A.M. – Orb eats a small breakfast consisting of fresh fruit, warmed flatbread infused with vegetables, and a very large glass of water.
6:45 A.M. – Orb performs a lengthy series of calisthenic exercises; see the diagrams below for a full breakdown.
7:30 A.M. – Orb sits under a tree outside the Barn and begins his first meditation session of the day. (He would not reveal to me the contents of his thoughts during this time and in the spirit of his wishes I will not reveal what I witnessed under his skull.)
12:00 P.M. – Orb moves inside to eat a light lunch of couscous and goat cheese with honey. He drinks another large glass of water.
12:15 P.M. – Orb socializes. (His activities during this block vary depending on whoever seems to be milling about the kitchen at the time. He seems willing to participate in almost any activity. I’ve personally witnessed him train in the fields with us, cook with Golden Boy, write poetry with Transplant, watch television with Monkey Girl to help her perfect her English, and even play a one on one match of the infuriatingly nonsensical Beach Detective board game with Alpha Dog.)
4:00 P.M. – Orb returns to his spot under the tree and meditates again. (Curiously, the pattern in his mind has changed. I won’t say how. It has definitely changed though, shockingly so.)
8:00 P.M. – Orb returns inside for another light meal: usually a mixture of vegetables in rice or in mushrooms. He drinks his third glass of water. (He has not relieved himself once the entire day.)
8:15 P.M. – Orb relaxes with a book. None of them were published less than sixty years ago and the genre varies.
10:00 P.M. – Orb retires to his room to sleep.
I only have one thing to share as an addition to the above schedule. I eventually decided that the curiosity was too much and that I had to ask Orb about his lack of bathroom breaks. He gave me a cryptic answer. At that point he was already aware I would be writing this, so I assume that when he gave me his answer he was implicitly giving me permission to share his answer with you.
“People assume they can change themselves. I do not pierce their delusions because it would create more problems than it would solve, but they are wrong. People do not change; they transform. A shift in thought is a shift in one’s essence. You become a separate person. Each day when I meditate my mind shifts like the sea. I feel as if I have been magically transported from one island to another, but I understand that I have simply transformed. I am not the man I was that morning. He has died. If I try to hold onto him I will lose the already short life I am living. This understanding, coupled with my enlightenment, allows my body to shift with my perspective. I do not need the restroom because the food and water consumed earlier was not consumed by me. It was consumed by a man who is no more.”
His answer stunned me. He had a sly hint of a smile while he shared it with me, so there’s a chance he was merely having some fun with my admiration and just relieved himself whenever I was away doing the same. If he lies his mind hides it very well. For what it is worth, when I shared his answer with Wallflower she simply nodded as if she already knew. Long have I admired her ability to absorb human truths from quiet observation.
I am inclined to believe his answer, at least in part. Alpha Dog’s transformation seems to be a testament to it. While his personality and flaws are intact, it is clear he has given up a toxic part of himself. If we believe Orb completely, Alpha Dog has removed a toxic self from the team entirely. It fills me with hope that we will succeed in our upcoming missions.
I hope these details of the ticking and tocking of a powerful mind will help all of you in your struggles as much as they are helping me. This is Archive of the Justice Backers, signing off for the evening.
Backer Update #22 (the Justice Backers)
Hello again everyone. This is Impala, delivering the last of my backer updates. Much has changed. I will do my best to walk you through each event and its implications for the project clearly. Alpha Dog would want me to make it exciting for you, so I will try to liven up the language.
Not long after we successfully addressed our major personal conflicts, we received an anonymous tip as to the location of Woman’s Touch, Act-of-Goddess, and the malicious Dr. Moyne. (I am unable to confirm or deny the rumors that Dr. Moyne is now using the moniker Dr. Malice.) We could not confirm the source of the tip, but decided to investigate fully regardless.
It was still before noon on a cloudy day when the decision was reached. Everyone took a few minutes to get fully suited up and prepared in case a battle did occur. Golden Boy helped Alpha Dog oil the dogs’ joints so they wouldn’t squeak when they ran. Transplant borrowed a thick branch from one of the trees outside and wound it around his arm like a python in case the location did not have sufficient vegetation for him to use. Monkey Girl attached the cylinder containing Pawn’s arm to a strap so she could carry it on her back. (She has recently taken to bringing it with her on missions just in case it responds to any particles of Pawn’s floating around in the air; none of us saw any harm in it.)
Everyone piled into the Dogfighter, including Alpha Dog’s standard set of hounds. Orb had only been with us for two small missions, but he was meshing with the team quite well. Though he hasn’t known us for long, he exudes a confidence in us that is wonderfully infectious. We all felt ready to battle during the flight. The tip took us to a cold overcast beach in the northeast. Golden Boy tilted the aircraft so we could observe the gently curving coastline.
We circled the location a few times; it was some sort of private airstrip with a hangar that seemed largely abandoned. There were a few vehicles parked on the strip with flat tires and windshields obscured by layers of leaves and grime. As a precaution we set the Dogfighter down much closer to the ocean, disembarked, and proceeded toward the hangar on foot. The pale waxy grass rustled in the strong wind. We had no way of knowing if the gust was just the Earth’s breath or some product of Act-of-Goddess.
“I can’t see inside,” Archive warned when we were closer to the building. “I think the entire structure is lead-lined.” Obviously that raised our suspicions. I asked Transplant and Wallflower to scout ahead. Wallflower, perhaps sensing something I could not, hugged Archive before vanishing. Transplant tucked himself under the tall grass as if it were a blanket and slithered toward the hangar quickly and quietly. The canine members of the team used the various scanners in their eyes and ears to search for any traces of activity.
“It’s not as abandoned as it seems,” Alpha Dog said after looking at the results on his gauntlet. “The power is running inside the hangar. There’s a lot of heat too. Traces of fuel in the air that aren’t as decayed as they should be. Not much sound.” Ventura growled. I never know how take it when the dogs make sounds like that. Perhaps it’s just a small bug in their artificial intelligence or maybe it is legitimate concern. I might ask Alpha Dog to change it if I wasn’t certain he’d reject anything that made them less individualistic. Wallflower and Transplant returned with nothing to report from their complete perimeter check.
“There’s a line of trees behind the building, but they’ve been cut to stumps recently,” Transplant noted.
“Lead-lined and free of trees. That seems awfully specific to us,” Alpha Dog said. The team nodded along with his suspicion.
“They should’ve dug them up entirely. All those stumps together are just as much as one tree. I’ve got them under my feet right now,” Transplant said. “It’ll be difficult to use them on the paved runways.”
“Perhaps I should knock?” Orb asked with a smile. He was implying that he could simply roll down the airstrip at high speed and smash through the hangar’s relatively thin metal door.
“Do we have a quieter way of getting inside?” I asked the group. There were no other ideas. We all knew Alpha Dog, Golden Boy, Transplant and I had the strengths needed to bust the door down, but it would be much slower and produce a lot more noise than Orb’s ‘knock’. With no better plan we decided Orb would be the emissary. We’ve trained for situations like this, so all it took was a few code words to communicate the plan. Alpha Dog, Golden Boy, and Monkey Girl moved to a position just left of the hangar’s massive door. Transplant, Archive, Wallflower, and I moved to the right. We each had a few dogs that would act as the first wave. Once Orb crashed through they would sweep in from the sides and try to clear the worst threats.
We watched as Orb worked his magic. First he closed his eyes. He reached his hands across his torso and grabbed his elbows. Then he seemed to sit down in an invisible chair. His body moved closer to the ground like a falling feather, but stopped about a foot off the grass. What little light there was bent around his telekinetic sphere and gave his marble form its distinctive sheen. Then he started to roll. I suppressed a laugh. I like to think of myself as professional, but it’s sometimes difficult to keep a straight face when Orb rolls by us like that. His body does not remain upright inside the sphere and as if that weren’t silly enough, it sounds just like a bowling ball coming back up the chute for its next roll.
He rolled so far down the runway that we could no longer see him. I could hear mechanical legs tensing, branches tightening, and our knuckles popping as we waited for him to return. Lebron extended his bulletproof shields. Wallflower faded away. We were ready.
We heard him before we saw him. Just before he came into view from around a junked truck it sounded like the Earth rolling off Atlas’ shoulders. Alpha Dog has clocked him at faster than one hundred miles per hour when he has a straight-away like that strip in front of the hangar. I half-expected a cone of fire to form around him. He was moments away from colliding with the metal and crumbling it inward when the hangar door suddenly flew open on its own.
Unable to slow his momentum, Orb barreled straight into the hangar where we heard a horrible din like a semi truck’s tireless steel rims spinning into a guardrail. A gigantic hand emerged from the hangar, vomiting fire from its wrist. To me it looked like the hand of the god of the underworld. Orb was clasped between its closed fingers. The hand reared back, its engines roaring all the way, and tossed Orb like a baseball. He flew off into the sky at an astonishing speed; I do not know how many miles away he was tossed.
The dogs scrambled over each other in their attempt to get inside. A second hand swept them back out onto the airstrip like they were ants. Their chasses screamed and threw sparks as they struggled to get back to their feet. The pack barked and bared their metal teeth. With our plan up in the air, we maneuvered out onto the airstrip and behind the dogs so we could get a better look at the disembodied giants’ fists.
We wound up staring straight into the most horrifying set of faces I’d ever seen. Our enemies were here and they had kept themselves extremely busy. Woman’s Touch smiled maniacally as she controlled her new toys. It was now clear what those engine parts were for. She’d used them to scale her robotic hands up so the palms were as wide as an SUV. She’d taken such pleasure in designing them that she’d even painted their titanium nails dark purple.
Act-of-Goddess hovered to the right of her leader’s right. She looked wary of us, like a scorpion eyeing a human eye that had drifted too close. Dr. Moyne was to the left. He was wielding Woman’s Touch’s original smaller set of hands, but the greater threat seemed to be the machine gun the robotic hands held. I believe it was originally intended to be mounted on a helicopter. I glanced sideways at Alpha Dog, who read my mind as well as Archive could have and nodded to reassure me. As I thought, his dogs would immediately prioritize the machine gun.
Even against fire-spewing giant hands of industrial alloys flanked by two more supervillains, I thought we stood a chance. Unfortunately they had built some new teammates. A collection of unblinking yellow eyes emerged from the shadows behind them. It was a team of eight new Hostage robots, so fresh from the assembly line that they sparkled. There was even a whiff of a new-car smell in the air around them. They’d been painted messily, but we could plainly see they were color-coded to correspond to each of our costumes. There was one to imprison each of us.
“What? No applause?” Woman’s Touch goaded. “I’d do it myself but I don’t want to cause an earthquake.”
“This was your plan Nance?” Alpha Dog shouted. “Bigger hands? I expected better.”
“I told you I had my mind set on taking things,” she replied. “Bigger hands means I can take bigger things.”
“The only thing you’ll be taking is a few lumps,” Golden Boy quipped. I really don’t know how necessary the banter is. It just seems to happen in these situations, like a sneeze or a hiccup.
“Oh please,” Dr. Moyne said as he rolled his eyes. “How do you think we knew you were coming? We sent you that juicy tip.” Alpha Dog pressed a button on his gauntlet to silence the dogs’ barking. That was news to us.
“Why pick a fight now? You know we’d show up any time you threw a punch with those things,” Alpha Dog asked.
“I don’t like surprises,” Woman’s Touch answered, “like when my colleague and fellow thief abandoned me to be imprisoned because he didn’t like the thing I decided to steal. No, I wanted to control this situation and now I’m going to control you. I should thank you for all those juicy contributions. They helped me set up my Hostage assembly line. Now if each of you will kindly step inside your robot. Your powers will be working for me now.” The Hostages stepped forward and opened their rib cages and limbs like bear traps.
“You’re insane,” Archive spat. “Why would we ever go willingly?”
“You have to. That is, unless you want to see your teammate Pawn killed,” Dr. Moyne revealed. He reached back into the hangar with one of his robot hands and pulled out a large transparent canister with a strange metal lid; it was full of white powder. We could see Pawn’s uniform swirled into it. “I scooped him up last time because I figured he’d come in handy.”
“Let him go!” Monkey Girl roared. It was difficult to tell her last syllable from the scream of a raging chimpanzee.
“What’s the point?” Alpha Dog challenged. “Pawn can’t be killed.”
“We’ve done our reading,” Woman’s Touch said. “He isn’t destroyed by any physical blow. You’ve never tested past that. You have no idea how his remains might respond to, oh, say, heat and pressure equivalent to the interior of a volcano.” She nodded to Dr. Moyne, who pressed a button on the canister’s metal lid. The bottom of the lid started emitting jets of red fire. It crept slowly down the jar, drawing closer to the powder. If it moved much closer it would start to burn Pawn away.
“Stop!” Monkey Girl shouted.
“Stop, we’ll go with you,” I said. I half-expected the rest of the team to look at me like I was crazy, but nobody wanted to risk Pawn’s life. I imagine we all felt drained just from finding out he was still alive, even before we recognized he was still in mortal danger. Dr. Moyne released the button and the fire ceased.
“Take them!” Woman’s Touch ordered joyously. The Hostage robots marched towards us in unison: heat-seeking prison cells. We were going to become nothing but weapons for the first supervillain we sought to stop. All your money would be wasted. Our dream darkened and revealed itself as a delusion while the metal skeletons drew steadily closer.
The wind changed everything. The strong breeze of the beach transformed into a sudden gale that tossed the Hostages about on the pavement like soda cans. A concentrated ball of air burst against the cylinder containing Pawn. The glass shattered and his powdered body rose into the wind along with his clothes. Monkey Girl cried out, happily this time, opened her canister, and tossed Pawn’s arm into the wind. As the gust died all the parts of our fallen comrade came back together and a man rose from his own ashes.
“What did I miss?” Pawn asked as he stretched his arms into the sky, like he’d just woken from a nap.
“We’re fighting Woman’s Touch again, except she’s a lot stronger,” Golden Boy told him. A rolling missile shot by us, launched itself into the air, and slammed into Woman’s Touch’s giant left hand. The pinky was torn from its joint and hung loosely by a few sparking cables. Orb rolled back to us. “Oh and he’s on our team now,” Golden boy added.
“Uhh… sounds good,” Pawn said.
“I am on your team as well,” Act-of-Goddess declared. It dawned on me that she had generated the gusts that freed Pawn. She flew over to us. “If you’ll have me.”
“Dreamweaver and Loved One convinced you?” Alpha Dog asked with a smile. Act-of-Goddess nodded solemnly.
“I do not know exactly what the truth is yet, but I know they are lying,” the Goddess said. I can finally reveal certain details to you, backers. We did not know if Act-of-Goddess could be convinced, but when we learned of her background and her struggles we thought it was worth devising a plan to help her.
Dreamweaver took the initiative. The first time we fought Woman’s Touch, in the last moments of the battle, she moved her consciousness from Archive’s mind to the Goddess’s. From there she visited her in her dreams. She did not use illusions or falsehoods. Dr. Moyne had already subjected her to enough of those. Instead Dreamweaver offered only the truth. I’ve come to understand she denied it at first. It takes a brave person to admit they’re not divine when it was so easy to believe such a thing.
When the Goddess finally gave her a chance, Dreamweaver gave her a way to contact Loved One and arrange a meeting. That was when Alpha Dog and I got involved. We were very excited that Dreamweaver had managed to infiltrate the enemy alliance, but we were saddened to learn about the Goddess’s situation. There was a certain poetry to Loved One being the one to meet with her. If a man made of the most bittersweet illusions can admit he is not what he appears to be, then Act-of-Goddess might be able to see to her own truth. We helped arrange the meeting, but we did not interfere beyond that. It was her journey and even then we understood all we could do was offer a lifeline.
“My Goddess! They are titan spawn! You will be betrayed,” Dr. Moyne blathered. He held out a metal hand to lure her back. “I cannot cure you from illusions if you give into them!”
“You stand there with borrowed hands and purchased gun, threatening the life of someone you already have hopelessly trapped, and you say you can cure me? I’ll be disinfecting my own mind from now on.”
“None of you gets a say in any of this!” Woman’s Touch boomed over everyone. “I am in control here. You are clay in my hands. Bend to my will!”
Thus the battle began in earnest. The Hostages sprinted towards us. Woman’s Touch tried to quickly counter the Goddess’s decision by crushing a few of us. She stepped onto the flat palm of one of her hands and used it to raise herself away from us. Then the other hand came down flat, cracking the pavement and nearly squishing a few of us. Golden Boy jumped on the back of it and started pounding on the knuckles with his fists, but a Hostage leapt, metal ribs open and glistening, trapped him inside, and rolled back to the pavement. Another Hostage grabbed Archive as she tried to fend it off. A third robot leapt towards Act-of-Goddess but she held her limbs wide and another blast of wind pushed it back. She summoned a jet of magma from somewhere in the world and sprayed the robot down into a pile of hot slag.
The hand started to rise once again, so I leapt fifteen feet onto its back. I hoped to use it as a stepping stone to get to Woman’s Touch, but she flipped the hand upside down and left me dangling off one of the fingers. The middle finger curled in and touched the thumb; she was going to flick me off with enough force to break my bones. Luckily, Transplant burst through the cracked pavement below with a string of stumps connected by thick roots that allowed him stretch up to me. He bound the fingers with the roots long enough for me to leap down the extensions of his makeshift tree. Just as I landed on the ground the hand snapped free of its entanglements and rained wood and bark down on us.
Dr. Moyne laughed as he peppered the battlefield with bullets. The high caliber rounds tore up Lebron, whose shields were meant to stop handguns. The dog dropped to the ground and the light went out of its eyes. Alpha Dog assures me his dogs’ minds are always backed up, but he flew into a rage anyway. He called his dogs to his side and had them construct his sled. He hopped on it and charged toward Dr. Moyne. A few more shots from his machine gun brought down Dr. Nick, but the sled pushed forward anyway, dragging the lifeless dog. Dr. Moyne would surely have cleared them all if Wallflower had not appeared beside him and punched him so hard it broke his nose.
The Doctor panicked and put his hands close to his face. Apparently he had not mastered his flying hands yet, because they responded to it by flying towards him and knocking him off his feet. The dogs rushed in, the sled breaking up as they reached him. Alpha Dog jumped off it and ran to the doctor; he wrapped on of the metal wires that had bound the sled together around the Doctor’s neck and pulled. The dogs fended off the hands that flopped like dying fish until the Doctor was unconscious. Wallflower had to pull Alpha Dog off of the man so he wouldn’t injure him further. The three remaining dogs ripped apart the hands like a pair of fried chickens.
Woman’s Touch’s free hand came back down into our midst and used its index and middle fingers to stroll right through us. They kicked Orb away once again and crushed Pawn back into powder form. Monkey Girl artfully dodged the giant machine enough to frustrate Woman’s Touch into forming a fist and slamming it down on one of the abandoned cars. I was going to attempt to jump up to her again, but I was ambushed by two Hostages and the incarcerated Golden Boy.
I had hoped his strength would be enough to break free of the machine, but as it turns out it was steadily stunning him with two electrodes that had been added to the lower back. He was powerless. A metal fist struck me in the chest and I felt one of my ribs crack. Suddenly it became hard to breathe. Another Hostage locked its leg around mine. I spun onto my back and kicked it between its yellow eyes. The head collapsed like a rusty old bucket, allowing me to free my leg.
“You don’t want to be on the winning side! Fine! Then you can die!” Woman’s Touch exploded out over the battle. She rotated the hand she was on in mid-air, stepping lightly so she wouldn’t fall. She pressed a few small switches on her arms. The fingertips of the hand she rode opened up, revealing large machine guns and a missile launcher in the thumb. The other hand opened as well, but that one extended a long set of metal claws. She immediately launched a barrage of projectiles down at us. Then her other hand swiped across the ground, shredding the pavement and anything in its way with its claws.
Something on her arms must have warned her that the weight of the clawed hand was off somehow, because she lifted it closer to her and examined the palm. She couldn’t see anything at first, but then Wallflower appeared, clinging to the palm like a spider. She leapt off it and latched onto Woman’s Touch, punching at her head and kicking at the machines on her arms.
Jaykay ripped Archive free from her Hostage. She rose and stared at the hands for a long moment.
“The wrist!” she shouted to everyone. “Go for the wrist!” Woman’s Touch knocked Wallflower out of the sky. The girl tumbled towards the ground. I mustered the energy to jump and threw myself into her path. I caught her and we sailed back to the ground. The pain in my chest worsened. I could only hope everyone else rallied to Archive’s call.
Act-of-Goddess brought herself up to her former leader and launched geysers of magma at the hands. Woman’s Touch dodged them all and pushed her back with a giant palm. A great sheet of crumbling snow emerged from the air in front of Goddess. The surprise avalanche buried the clawed hand and doused its engine fire. Alpha Dog’s hounds dug into the snow and ripped at the machine while they had the chance. Then the Goddess brought in some nasty weather, complete with frothing black clouds and lightning strikes. The electricity sailing through the air forced Woman’s Touch and her remaining hand closer to the ground.
I watched, hands bracing my side, as Monkey Girl flipped around Golden Boy’s reluctant punches and then tore at the electronics on the Hostage’s back. Once he was freed he picked up Monkey Girl, reared back, and tossed her up to Woman’s Touch. She curled up and tumbled through the air. When she was finally close enough she unfurled and kicked Woman’s Touch so hard she nearly stumbled off the back of her hand. They fought for a few moments, just long enough to distract Woman’s Touch from one of our favorite strategies.
Orb was rolling back in and picking up speed fast. Transplant saw this and grabbed up all his scattered plant matter. He quickly warped and smoothed what was left of the stumps into a wedge shape and positioned himself below its lip just quick enough to avoid Orb. Our mighty Indian marble propelled himself off the wooden ramp and into the sky. Monkey Girl leapt down to Golden Boy’s arms just as the sphere collided with the hand. Woman’s Touch and her machine flew back and crushed part of the hangar’s roof. In the smoking aftermath of the collision she positioned herself in the hand’s palm, closed the fingers around her to protect herself, and tried to flee.
The hand’s engine sputtered just thirty feet in the air. The last of its fire died, Orb’s toss having dealt too much internal damage. The hand crashed back to the ground with Woman’s Touch neatly trapped by the fingers. She’d created her own jail cell. The woman erupted into a tirade.
“What are you idiots doing? You could have anything with those powers! You could make this your world! Instead you’re begging for scraps at the side of an electric highway! Let me out or I’ll let myself out! I can take my freedom back! I can take anything I want!”
“Shut up Nance,” Alpha Dog sighed as he rested his head against the corpse of the giant hand. He pet Crispy’s head. “Is everybody okay?” I hobbled closer to my grouping teammates.
“Where are the rest of the Hostages? We only destroyed a few,” I asked.
“I think they fled,” Archive said. “I hope they’re not as individualized as the dogs.”
“They’ll come for me and there’s nothing you can do to stop…” Woman’s Touch started to say. Monkey Girl punched her across the jaw and knocked her out.
That is how we defeated our first supervillain. That is what you all have been paying for. I hope it was satisfactory. The video evidence will be available shortly. Most of us sustained only minor injuries. I cracked a rib. Archive and Wallflower wound up with minor concussions. Alpha Dog, Monkey Girl, and Golden Boy suffered only a few gashes and bruises. Orb and Pawn were unharmed. Pawn reformed about a minute after the battle ended and casually asked how much time had passed.
I would just like to add a few personal notes before I leave. I believe in the Justice Backers. I believe in our power to do good. We have learned the hard way that we can only succeed when we work as a team and that we are not a very small team. You are all vital members. We count on you and confide in you as we would friends, lovers, and family. I hope you love being a part of this team as much as I do.
You can rest for now backers, justice is done.
Backer Update #23 (Big Changes)
Internet, my friends, how have you been? It’s been a while. This is Alpha Dog returning to my post as the spokesman of the Justice Backers… sort of. We warned you guys that things would be changing. Change is good though! We need to shift our continents a little bit and let off some lava so we don’t end up shaking apart.
You guys have me practically wetting myself every two minutes with these donations. Ever since we took down Woman’s Touch our operating funds have more than doubled. That’s great, because it allows us to go through our changes a lot more fluidly. You might’ve heard that the leaders of the Backers are kind of divorcing. Mommy Impala is taking some of our stuff and some of the kids and moving to a second facility we’re setting up. Don’t worry! We all agreed on this and we all actually do think it’s for the best. We’re splitting into two teams so we can more effectively dispense sweet sweet justice.
When Impala moves she’ll be taking Monkey Girl, Wallflower, Archive, Loved One, Golden Boy, and Dreamweaver with her. She’ll also be taking the Dogfighter. I’m glad to get that thing out of here honestly; it reminds me of bad times. With some of our new funds I’ll be purchasing a pair of helicopters and modifying them with the stealth technology from the Dogfighter.
Pawn has decided to stay with me. I think it’s because he missed all the brouhaha over my stumbles and jerk de-conversion. To him it’s just like he skipped a day; there isn’t any reason to leave or wounds that need healing. I love that kid. Transplant is staying on as well, ever the trooper. I had to keep him; who else would leave those amazing floral calling cards? Have you seen the one outside Woman’s Touch’s hangar? It’s the most epic one yet. Orb is still on team Alpha Dog too. He’ll be taking over temporary co-commander duties until I do a new round of recruiting. That’s right potential heroes, we’re hiring again. Start sending in those applications. I know there are a lot of you out there who claim to be ‘pre-heroes’, but we’re only taking people with manifested powers.
We also have a new member in the form of Act-of-Goddess! Mother Nature’s bouncer is now with the good guys. Are you as hyped about that as I am? She’s still getting used to hanging out with us mere mortals but she’s adjusting quickly. She hasn’t asked us to handfeed her grapes on the vine or fan her with palm leaves or anything like that.
Impala’s team will be doing their own fundraising, but it’s all still run through justicebackers.com. We’ll keep in contact with each other, share information, and team up when the situation calls for it. You can pick which team you want to donate to or you can do the smart thing and donate to both of us.
I’ve got big plans guys. They may or may not involve that giant pair of hands we’ve got squirreled away now that Nance is counting cigarettes in prison. We’re probably going to be super busy for a few months, what with that terrorist cell beheading bloggers in India, that mercenary army taking over that favela in Brazil, and that wacko Gamemaster running around holding entire office buildings hostage and making them do battle with his robot minions in some kind of twisted real-life RPG. That’s a pretty full schedule, but I’m going to find the time to work on a few things. One of them is… are you ready for this… drumroll… PUPPIES!
That’s all for now guys. Make sure to check out the ‘we stopped Woman’s Touch’ T-shirts we’ve got available in the store. They come in just about every size and just about every color. I’ll leave you with a quick poll. We need your opinions just as much as we need your financial support. Justice Backers unite!
What should Alpha Dog’s next dog specialize in?
Communications – 6%
Subterranean missions – 17%
Barn security – 7%
A FLYING dog! – 14%
A therapy dog – 15%
Radiation specialist – 1%
A dog-repairing dog – 19%
A dog disguised as a real dog – 21%
This poll closes in two days. Have a great weekend backers!